Arts Award Leadership Network Mentor
Jo Russel has been working in the arts education sector for around 20 years. Having moved to Southampton at the age of two, she has enjoyed living in the city for most of her career, only moving way to attend drama school and for other career opportunities. She trained as an actress at ArtsEd London on a 3 year acting diploma followed by gaining a degree in Theatre from University of Surrey and the Guildford School of Acting. Shortly after graduating, Jo soon gravitated towards theatre in education projects and spent much of her early career touring nationally and internationally, performing shows and developing participatory workshops in schools, rural community centres and care homes. This experience inspired her to set up her own small scale theatre company creating local theatre with an emphasis on hiring local talent. Around this time she also began work at Southampton City Council’s Arts & Heritage department where she progressed to the role of managing formal and informal education at Tudor House, SeaCity Museum and Southampton City Art Gallery. It was in this role where she first became involved with Arts Award and collaborated on a number of successful projects around the city. In 2018 Jo returned to her thespian routes and became the Creative Learning Manager at Mayflower Theatre helping to manage the successful programme of community, education and youth work that the theatre offers. She became an Arts Award Leadership Network member mentoring organisations to enhance their Arts Award offers. Jo has experience of running Arts Award at all levels including embedding the framework into holiday workshops, virtual adaptations and digital moderations. Jo believes in planting the seeds of creativity at any age and is passionate about creating inspiring arts opportunities for all.